All About Foot Anatomy and Arches

Foot Problems, Holistic Care

Anatomy of the Foot

Three Arches of the Foot

The Arches of the Foot.

The largest longitudinal arch (running down the length of the foot) is the Medial Arch. It is located on the inside of the foot and is typically described as “Flat”, “Normal” or “High”.

The Lateral Arch is the smaller of the two longitudinal arches and is found on the outside part of the sole.

The Metatarsal Arch is the primary transverse arch, running across the foot just behind the ball. This arch created by the Metatarsals is not as obvious as the large Medial Arch, but is still fundamental for distributing weight as we push off from the ground when walking or running. High heels and footwear without adequate Metatarsal Arch support can aggravate the connective tissue area around the metatarsal bones causing pain in the ball of the foot (Metatarsalgia).


The Phalanges (toe bones) provide balance, weight-bearing, and thrust while standing, walking, or running. Narrow, pointed footwear can cause painful deformities of the toes, such as bunions and hammer toes.Bones of the foot

The Cuneiform, Cuboid, and Navicular bones are large and perform a weight-bearing function. Footwear with good Medial Arch support can help stabilize these structures and prevent pain or injury.

The Talus and Calcaneus form the heel area of the foot and bear a large portion of the body’s weight. The Talus forms the connection between the Tibia and Fibula (lower leg) and the foot. Achilles tendonitis, heel spurs, and Plantar Fasciitis are all ailments related to inflammation of tendons or ligaments which attach to the Calcaneum. Footwear that properly supports the Medial Arch can reduce and prevent heel pain.

Supporting Our Arches

The foot must bear the weight of the body and provide the mechanism for propulsion, as well as require a high degree of stability and flexibility. The arches of the foot provide this function, creating both shock absorption and stability. The arches are maintained by the bones and joints as well as by ligaments, muscles, and tendons.

When any of the bones, joints, ligaments, muscles or tendons are over-stressed, pain or injury often occur. Footwear with good arch support can help protect against, as well as help to recover, from such injuries.

Footwear intended to stabilize your feet provides support for the three primary arches – medial, lateral, and metatarsal. When fitting the foot to an appropriate arch, the medial arch should be the highest priority. A properly sized footbed that touches your arch ensures the correct alignment of the ankle, knees, hips, and spine.

Different Types of Footwear For Different Feet

As mentioned in our Happy Feet Minute video about how to find supportive shoes, we note that the two most important aspects of supportive footwear are:

  • A contoured insole that supports every arch of the foot and thus helps to keep the entire body in proper alignment from the ground up and
  • Structurally sound, resilient materials under the foot

Kenkoh Spirit Linen GoldBeginning with support, perhaps no other footwear on the market today provides a more contoured, supportive surface for the foot than Kenkoh Massage Sandals. As noted above, the soft latex contoured massaging nodules of a Kenkoh are designed to properly support and naturally align all three major arches of the foot: medial, lateral, and metatarsal. Of course, aside from excellent overall support, Kenkohs provide lots of other key health benefits through their gentle yet stimulating massaging action.

As for the second bullet point above, structurally sound and resilient materials under the foot, we have found that cork and latex footbeds are a very durable and moldable solution for supportive footwear. The cork heats over time and molds to your feet, creating a custom fit. Additionally, it provides a structurally sound support platform that does not break down over time, as memory foam can.

Heel pain in the female foot

Like the rest of the human body, everyone’s is unique. However, there are three categories that most people’s arches fall into; high, medium or normal , and low or flat. When arches are unsupported, our ankles are forced to compensate, and often do so by collapsing inwards or outwards. This is called overpronating and oversupinating, respectively. Both overpronation and oversupination can cause a variety of foot ailments, including heel spurs and plantar fasciitis.

People with higher arches tend to supinate, causing their foot to bend in a slight C shape as they favor walking on the outside of the foot. This results in an uneven distribution of weight across the foot, as the smaller outer toes are grossly pressured in comparison to the rest of the sole. To prevent this collapsing of the ankle, a deep heel cup, high medial arch support, and a secure fitting shoe are required for proper alignment.

Lower arches or flat feet cause the foot to overpronate, causing the weight to be unevenly distributed to the inside edge of the feet.  The ankle rolls inward, creating problems stabilizing the body, and shock isn’t absorbed as efficiently. This means that a smaller area of the foot, specifically the big toe and second toe, are responsible for the majority of the work during the push-off phase of walking and running.

Brands that feature cork and latex footbeds with substantial medial arch support include Birkenstock, and Finn Comfort.

Birkenstock’s classic footbed is the most popular when it comes to a great combination of support, comfort, and fashion. originally designed as a post-operative shoe, this footbed features a deep heel cup, metatarsal bar, and pronounced medial arch support that has supported customers for generations.

Finn Comfort Calvia

Finn Comfort Calvia

Finn Comfort’s sandals, clogs, shoes and boots are hand-stitched in Germany and features ultra soft calfskin linings. As one of the most supportive shoes carried by Happy Feet Plus, the Finn Comfort footbed can be completely removed for cleaning, airing, or replacement with a new outsole or insole,  providing a long-term return on investment. Concealed Velcro closures allow for easy, custom fitting that can adapt to your foot over the course of the day.

Finn Comfort’s soft footbed is also an optimal option for supporting flattened or collapsed arches. By gently lifting the arch, misalignments are corrected, allowing the ankle, knee, hips, and spine to work in unison as we walk and run. The soft footbed is also recommended for feet suffering from painful ailments like metatarsalgia, bunions, or corns.

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